Cleaning the domain

When I was growing up, my dad (a Navy guy) had us on a strict cleaning schedule. Every other weekend we cleaned the entire house, top to bottom. I’m talking toilets scrubbed, showers de-scummed, floors mopped, rooms straightened. When we were young, our only task was to straighten our rooms. In typical child fashion, it took my brother and I just as long to clean our rooms as it took my dad to clean the entire house. As we got older, he added chores until we were responsible for cleaning our bathroom too, as well as mopping/vacuuming our side of the house. When my brother moved out, I offered to take over cleaning myself. So every other week, I put on some music and dusted, mopped, vacuumed, scrubbed, shined, wiped, straightened, and more!

My internship was the first time I was free from the every-other-week schedule and I took full advantage of it. A humorous anecdote from the time: my apartment’s shower developed an orange scum. I seriously had no idea what it was and didn’t know that could happen – that’s how often we cleaned our home. I blamed a crappy apartment shower, rather than the fact that I hadn’t cleaned it in six weeks. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was cleaning for move-out and realized that the stuff wiped away. Whoops.

Anyway, ever since moving out and being gloriously free from the every-other-week thing, I’ve struggled to find an adequate schedule. I mean, no one likes scrubbing toilets, but there’s got to be a better way other than my current mode (which is to invite friends/family over and then surreptitiously wipe down the toilet with Clorox wipes while they aren’t looking after freaking out because the smell is suddenly QUITE noticeable). Plus, I’m one of the weirdos that loves a clean house. It’s like I can’t fully relax unless the living room is straightened and the counters have been wiped down. Luffy thinks I am crazy, but I embrace it.

I say all of this because I’ve gone on a sudden cleaning binge. In probably the first time since well before the dumpling was born, all of our toilets and showers are clean at the same time. (And not just wiped-down-with-Clorox-wipe clean, I mean scrubbed-with-a-toothbrush clean.) The dumpling’s toys have been put away. The ever present entryway jumble is mostly organized. And I remember again why I love a clean home. But, you know, a toddler lives here and thus a clean home takes a lot of work. So cheers to me, for fighting the good fight. The living room will devolve into chaos as soon as the dumpling gets home from daycare, but at least he can’t muck up the toilet. Yet.

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Aha Moment

I had a personal epiphany the other evening.

Luffy and I were cleaning the kitchen after the dumpling had gone to bed. He was unloading the dishwasher, asking me why I had closed a flip-down lid on the silverware basket. As I was answering, a knife got stuck in it and the whole thing pulled away from the basket. As I put it back into place, I joked that he had manhandled it. And, all of a sudden, Luffy was mad. He had even clarified first, if I meant me or him, but I was oblivious and replied him. After it was clear that he was mad, I tried explaining that I had been teasing him, but it didn’t matter.

In the immediate aftermath, I admit to being hurt and mystified. WTH? It was a joke! I was teasing! He’s just using me as an outlet for stress, I told myself. After he had cooled off a bit, he explained that he had been doing his best to help and then I had criticized him.

Now you guys, I swear I had been teasing. Not the thing where you just say you were joking because you realize afterwards that it was cruel/mean/insensitive. I was truly joking. It was a flap attachment on the dishwasher, a flimsy thing that reattached in fifteen seconds and that we never use anyway. And my husband’s mind immediately went to criticism. I was completely caught off guard and even more hurt to think that I couldn’t even make a joke without him misinterpreting it.

However, that epiphany struck and I could see the other side clearly. You know how, in an argument, you always think you’re in the right. Whenever we have a disagreement, I had been thinking of all the things I’d been doing right, rather than trying to get better at the things I’m not. One such behavior was suddenly crystal clear: I have a tendency to be critical and a bit passive aggressive. Probably the worst thing is that I sneer and get snippy without realizing that I’ve done it. I hate that. I hate that I can’t have a productive discussion about an issue before I let it undermine the best of me. And that’s brought us to the point where my husband expects to be criticized, not teased. And I hate that too.

I’ve been reflecting on myself over the past couple of days and though there are probably many things I should be working on, I think I’ve identified two issues to work on first:

Issue 1: My facial expressions. This is gonna be a hard one. Luffy mentioned that my tone of voice and facial expressions from the other night didn’t convey a joke. They said criticism. In my self-review, I think I can see what’s going on. I have a very expressive face and it’s outing me at certain times. I can picture it clearly in my mind’s eye: I want to be ok with whatever is going on, though my mind says NO! so my eyebrows go up, my forehead tightens, my face tilts down as my eyes look up. A condescending look. My words say sure, that’s fine but my tone of voice says never, and I am annoyed at this whole discussion. And the worst part is that I often do it without noticing. It’s going to be very hard to change this, but I’ll start with baby steps. First step is identifying when I’m doing it. This is probably going to be in hindsight at the start, so along with step one comes sucking it up and apologizing to Luffy each and every time. Hopefully, over time, I’ll be able to identify it as it’s happening and then (with even more time) stop doing it all together.

Issue 2: Being right. Man, I hate this one, this hang-up. I like being right. I like doing things correctly, the first time. I just really, really like being really, really good at whatever I’m doing. And when I’m not “right” I shut down, get defensive. But I need to let go of this, especially when it comes to my son and my husband. Luffy and I are a team. There’s not really a right or wrong way to raise a child. There is no scoreboard in our house that says Belle: 0, Luffy: 1. I’m not even sure how to go about correcting this, other than to acknowledge the feeling each time it rears its head and then reject it, move it aside to face the issue without raising my hackles.

Anyway, I’ve got some personal growing to do. I’m writing all of this out so it’s here, in black and white. And I can come back and read about that time I made Luffy feel so rejected even though I had been trying to tease him. Man that feeling sucked.

Daycare Cooties, pt 2

I really didn’t want there to be a part two, you guys. Le boo.

The dumpling once again slept in. When I realized that he slept through the night without vomiting, I had high hopes for his return to daycare. He’d made it through yesterday just fine, surely we were headed up. But, as I moved him through our morning rituals, I wasn’t convinced he felt ok. He just seemed extra sad, clinging to my shoulder in a Precious Moments way, rather than a howler monkey way. I had just started a video chat with my mom (seeing his grandma always brightens the dumpling’s day), when he suddenly turned towards me.

“I’m still not sure if he’s feeling well,” were my literal words right before diving for the kitchen sink as the dumpling puked a half cup of milk everywhere. Poor baby. “Well, I guess that answers the question,” I called out as my mom stared at the ceiling from where I’d abandoned my phone.

Honestly, I think he felt worse today than he did yesterday. Yesterday, the only way you’d know he wasn’t feeling great was his lack of appetite. But he was happy to play and keep himself company, while drinking some water. Today though, today he felt extra miserable. He needed a nap at 11 and actually went down for a second one at 2:30. When he woke up from his first nap, I spent almost an hour carrying him around the house, singing Itsy Bitsy Spider to him. He dozed on my shoulder as best he could. After he got sick a second time (both times were in the morning), he refused liquids. He didn’t drink any water until around 4pm and yes I was starting to get very worried. Luffy helpfully picked up Gatorade and Popsicles to help keep the dumpling hydrated.

The turning point came in the afternoon. He was trying to put a sippy cup together (which he did the other night and was SO proud, as were his parents), but he kept getting frustrated and sliding down my lap in an attempt to assume a tantrum position. To try to calm him, I ended up rubbing his tummy a bit, then his legs, like his dad loves. I suppose that did the trick because he laid there for a while, before getting up and finally starting to talk and laugh and drink water!

I’m hopeful that he’s turned the corner for real this time – that poor baby doesn’t have any spare rolls to lose.

 

Daycare Cooties

My least favorite part about the dumpling going to daycare is the inevitable onslaught on daycare germs. In a way, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be (no, my child didn’t have a cold for four months this year), but in some ways, it’s just as bad. Particularly stomach bugs. The dumpling’s home today because the poor baby got sick in his crib last night. We got an email just yesterday warning us that a bug was (still) making the rounds and when I saw two cases in his classroom, I sent up a little prayer and crossed my fingers.

All for naught it seems.

Oh well, the dumpling has been in good spirits this morning, despite not eating anything and every so often executing a terrifying little cough-cough-gag thing. He’s currently napping and I’m currently holding my breath to see if he makes it through his nap without vomiting. STAY TUNED FOR THE EXCITING UPDATE!!

At least he gets exposed to all of this before he starts school. He’ll have quite the robust immune system before long. At least, that’s what they tell me.

Battling Ants

AGAIN. Yes, again. I swear to you guys that we don’t live in a hovel.

For the past few months, I’ve seen tiny black ants in – of all places – our shower. It was only ever one or two and I immediately drowned them with the shower head, so no big deal. Right? Right.

I arrived home from work Wednesday evening to find a literal swarm of ants on my kitchen floor. I have never worked so hard to not freak out, considering the dumpling was all mama! you’re home! hold me! I had Luffy vacuum them up immediately and then I made a game of getting the ants with damp paper towels with the dumpling afterwards. After we put the dumpling to bed, I tackled the problem of figuring out where these particular ants were coming from.

You  guys. They were coming from our bathroom. They traveled across our bedroom, alllll they way across the dining room, and into the kitchen where they had a field day with the remnants that a toddler leaves. I’m sure they thought they struck gold with cheerio crumbs and jelly smears and dried applesauce splatters*. But such progress! In just a day! I’d be thoroughly impressed if I wasn’t so skeeved out.

The next day I cleaned our home more thoroughly than it’s been cleaned since we moved in. I also called our pest control service. We have a quarterly service and they always say that if we have a problem between treatments, we just call and they’ll come out. Easy peasy! So I called and found out that their next available appointment is Wednesday [computerized pause] July 25th. WTH?! So I had to tackle this on my own. I bought several ant bait traps at Home Depot and put them down strategically. I then had a dream last night that I woke up to a living room overrun by ants as well. Like the antpocalypse. Luckily, that didn’t actually happen. Whew!

I’m trying my best to leave them alone when I see them now because I know the whole point is for them to take the bait back to the nest. But guys, it’s so hard to leave them be when I see them scurrying across the dining room floor. Ick!

*Speaking of, do you know how hard it is to get apple sauce up once it’s dried? I swear it’s like cement.

Polishing Up the Home, pt 5

I’ve been holding back on y’all. In my defense, Luffy and I fully realize that we’ve gone a little crazy, but I like to think y’all would too, if you had the option. And because I see the crazy, I haven’t really said anything. Plus plus, this has been in the works for damn near a year, which just adds to the crazy. And well, ….. yeah.

What’s the big news, you ask? Are we moving? Did we buy a new house? Some ridiculously over-the-top vacation? Yeah, no, none of those things. We got a new bed.

[…]

Don’t do that now! I can feel your disappointment. You were all set to live vicariously through my husband’s and my crazy decisions and I go and let you down. Hear me out:

Like I said, this story starts almost a year ago when Luffy got it into his head that we should get a new bed and [something something something] here’s the perfect bed for us! Now, I’m not even really sure how he found this bed although I think it had something to do with his favorite blogger mentioning it. I don’t really know. All I do know is that suddenly this was the bed we were gonna get, cool? The man loves sleep far more than me, so it seemed fair that he could choose our bed. My only input was that we upgrade to a king to replace our little queen. It gets a little cramped since both Luffy and I have gotten addicted to that full body pillow that was supposed to just help during my pregnancy. Sure! he said, the thing is though, we have to wait until next May. 

[???] <<< was probably my real response

And this is where Luffy launched into a somewhat convoluted explanation about a shareholders’ meeting of a parent company which triggered a big sale at subsidiary company and if you were a shareholder of said parent company, you got an even greater discount at the sale. The meeting had just wrapped up, thus we needed to wait until next year. And this is where I got a little suspicious, you guys.

You see, Luffy is a man who values his time and comfort over almost everything else. I love seeing the way he thinks a lot of times because it’s not the way most people think, even though we probably should be thinking that way. For example, you would never, ever find him at a Black Friday event because the discount is literally not worth the time invested. Now, I know a lot of people feel the same way about Black Friday, but he takes this far deeper. He discovered this tool that helps you gauge how much your free time is worth and also highlights the disparity between how much our time is worth and yet how we’re willing to spend it. (The classic example from the article is how long you should wait in line for a $100. At some point, the scales tip and the surprising thing is how little time that actually takes.) So he’s actually quite ruthless in his decisions over what’s worth his time. And as to his comfort, well he places a high value on that as well.

So to hear him say that he was willing to wait an entire year for this sale…… Luffy, how much does this bed cost?

The answer was a lot. A lot a lot. It’s a crazy amount of money for a mattress and if we waited for the sale, we’d get a ridiculous amount of money off the price. I figured he had a year to change his mind, so I’d see how he felt in Spring 2018.

Fast forward to April of this year and Luffy has us at the store, laying on the most comfortable thing I’ve ever laid on in my entire life and that is not at all an exaggeration and suddenly I’m counting the days until we can buy it (25 days) and then how much longer until it would be in our home (20 more days).

You’ll be happy to know that we did indeed survive the wait and we are now the proud owners of a king size bed and a glorious mattress that is truly heaven on earth. I also feel about 30% adultier because the bed is big and beautiful and stately. It fits right into our big bedroom and puts our previous setup to shame. Not bad for a couple of thirty-year olds!

Toddler Preferences

It’s fascinating to watch a little person’s likes/dislikes emerge. It also feels like quite the crowning achievement when I suddenly connect the dots and realize that oh hey, I think he really likes tart foods! At least until he decides that he doesn’t like tart foods anymore, thankyouverymuch. Here are a few of my toddler’s clear preferences:

Socks – The dude loves socks. Always has. He has to choose his socks in the morning and some mornings it can be quite the ordeal, with rejected socks thrown about his room. He’s very particular about them, sometimes requesting to search through his clothes hamper in pursuit of an already-worn favorite. It also meant that during Pestilence of 2018: The Great Rash, his feet looked almost as bad as his poor little bottom because he refused to be barefoot.

Stripes – The dumpling occasionally extends his wardrobe choices to the rest of his body and will choose his shirt for the day. Although, when this happens it’s usually more of a demand than a request, but hey, it’s the toddler’s world and I’m just living in it. I also started putting this one together during the aforementioned rash episode. He was giving me serious mommy guilt because he kept demanding to wear a long-sleeved onesie he has.  And they came as a set, so he actually has four which was super convenient when he’d discover yet another one after I thought I had hidden them all. Logical explanations of rash + exacerbated by heat + Texas summer + long-sleeves went right over the dumpling’s head, so I just rolled the sleeves up as far as they would go and hoped for the best. I wondered what it was about these onesies that he liked so much. Were they softer than his other shirts? Was it the bold colors? The contrasting colors? Whatever it was, he was hooked.

A few days later, (after I had really and truly hidden all of the long-sleeved shirts) he demanded to wear another onesie of his, a soft white/navy striped number, and the proverbial light-bulb clicked on. I think he likes stripes, I thought to myself, and as soon as I had the thought, it struck me that stripes were everywhere in his preferences. Nine times out of ten, his chosen socks were striped. (The other 1/10 time, the socks have stars.) Stripes on his shirts. The stupid long-sleeve onesies were striped. The only time he ever cared about shorts, they were striped. Striped blanket that he keeps pulling down. Stripes, stripes, stripes. He loves them. Luckily for him, I’m a big fan of simple infant/toddler clothes (you won’t find a **Daddy’s Lil’ Slugger** shirt in his closet), thus he already had plenty of striped shirts. Now I just make sure to look for striped options first when purchasing new clothes. Which will be awesome when he suddenly decides that he hates strips and that’s 2/3 of his wardrobe.

Cars – The dude loves cars. Cars on his zippy. Toy cars. Real cars (watching them go by, that is). Semis rolling down the highway. Lining daycare’s toy trucks up while he’s outside playing. Playing with they neighbor’s dump truck.

Speaking of, the aforementioned neighbor had a birthday part over the weekend. He loves wheels, in any and all form, so I got a cute set of toddler cars with out-sized wheels for him. Luffy had the bad timing of pointing out the present on our dining table within full view of the dumpling. The next thing I knew, the dumpling insisted we open the package so that he could examine the cars. He now owns a set of toddler cars and I had to go buy a new one for the neighbor. I will also make sure to hide any and all future presents. Live and learn, folks, live and learn.